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How CAVE-CAD Can Improve Your Architectural Design for Your Occupants

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Brain EEG. Image Credit: © Dreamstime
Researchers at the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) have developed innovative CAD (computer-aided design) software called CAVE-CAD that, when integrated with novel hardware to monitor human neurological and physiological responses, makes architectural design more efficient. CAVE-CAD also adds an important feature missing in conventional CAD: an ability to immediately experience the consequence of modifying design.
Source: UC San Diego News Center, CAVE-CAD Software Will Help Mine Human Brain to Improve Architectural Design

This exciting latest development of CAVE-CAD means great things for the evolution of occupant-centered architectural design. While this instrument is used to measure occupant response to an immersive experience of an architectural building design decision, I see many other uses for such a development that can really help our profession as well as all people that experience architecture.

CAVE-CAD is a great instrument for testing architectural designs in terms of how occupants will be likely to experience them. As an immersive testing and design tool, it is possible to make design changes on the fly while simultaneously analyzing how an occupant would respond to such change. I particularly like that the aural environment that goes along with the visual environment which can be tested simultaneously for an occupant’s experiential reaction. It’s a great way to get inside the head of an occupant, and to get inside the design before it’s constructed so as to better understand how design decisions impact occupants.

While being immersed in CAVE-CAD, occupants might feel lost or overwhelmed, surprised or bored, or curious and happy.And if steps can be taken to delve into such occupant physiology, emotion, behavior, cognition, and even spirituality — then CAVE-CAD can prove to be a very powerful tool for architectural design.

As you design your buildings using your own process, just imagine how you might like to test certain aspects experientially, going beyond the visual. By finding and developing a testing ground where you can fuse the different senses together into a virtual experience of a space, you will likely make better design decisions and will also be able to communicate your design better to future occupants.

And don’t think that you need CAVE-CAD to do all of your testing for occupant experience. For example, you can set up virtual aural and visual simulations using your computer along with a projection screen and speakers. The trick is to devise a plan to study your occupant’s reactions: whether physiological, intellectual, emotional, behavioral, and/or spiritual.

For optimal results, keep track of what research materials and tools are becoming available to you as an architectural designer. Try to improve your designs for your occupants by better understanding not only your designs before they are built, but also by better understanding your occupants’ reactions to those design ideas. In following along this path, you will stand in prime position to boost your design process to yield higher quality design with less error.

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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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